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The Benefits Of Rowing Exercises

Exercise plays an important part in keeping the body healthy and fit. Performing the same exercise everyday, however, can quickly start to feel boring. A rowing machine at home or the gym can add some diversity to your workout routine.

They give you access to a full body workout and comes with a number of other benefits. Still, many people do not understand the many benefits of rowing that they can expect.

In this post, we are going to explore how you can use rowers as a way of getting a good exercise. We focus on the benefits that a rowing workout offers, including burning calories, building muscle, and even providing benefits for your mind.

The Main Benefits Of A Rowing Machine

When it comes to implementing new exercises into your routine, it is important to keep their benefits in mind.

This applies to cases where you might want to use a rowing machine during your workout sessions. Even though there are several rowing machine options, such as the Hydrow, the benefits of these workouts remain very similar.

We will explore the benefits of indoor rowing machines and provide more details about how each of these can help you achieve your goals faster.

Rowing Machines Offers A Full Body Workout

One of the best advantages you get with rowing machine workouts is the fact that they offer a full body effect.

The activities that you can perform on a rowing machine can target major muscle groups in your lower and upper body. This is one of the many reasons why it is considered such a great exercise.

Upper Body Versus Lower Body

In one report, researchers tried to identify just how effective a rowing workout is for various muscle groups. They found that a rowing stroke and other similar exercises effectively targets about 75% of the muscles that are located in the lower body.

Additionally, up to 35% of upper body muscles were also activated and worked on during the study. While the full body workout does focus more on the lower body, it still helps to balance out the upper body muscles too.

It is also a good cardio workout, which means the exercise is great for enhancing cardiovascular health and to help you build endurance.

Great For Beginners

When you are only starting out with a new fitness routine, you may find it hard to pick the right workout for you. Regardless of your fitness level or goals, using a rowing machine is a great option for beginners and pros alike.

If you are a beginner and your fitness levels are on the low side, then you can start gradually with a low intensity setting. There are several rowing machines that offers the ability to adjust the intensity of your workout. You can read here about a great choice, for example. By lowering the intensity, you can allow your body to get used to the new exercise routine. Rowing strengthens your muscles gradually, which will allow you to easily move on to a more intense workout level over time.

You may also find that it improves your aerobic capacity, which is another one of the many physical benefits.

Transitioning From Other Exercises

Of course, if you are coming from elliptical machines and stationary bikes, and have not used a rowing machine before, you’ll still find it easy to adopt. Rowing works in a simple method and there are different kinds of exercises that you can perform on these machines.

Meditative Properties

Some people have also reported finding their time on a rowing machine kind of meditative.

Several studies have shown that exercise is good for the brain and mind. With rowing, people often experience a calming effect that helps them get rid of excess stress and focus on the activity at hand.

Mental Health Benefits

One study explains that regular exercise has been shown to provide improvements in several mood states and mental health conditions.

This includes stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, the study also reports that cytokines and other inflammatory triggers in the body generally declines with regular exercise.

These effects could improve overall health outcomes, which may further provide benefits to the cognitive well-being of the person. While these studies focuses on general exercises, it still account for the activities that you are able to perform with your indoor rowing exercise.

Burn Calories

Over 33% of the American population is considered to be either obese or overweight. Excess weight can take a toll on the human body and lead to serious health concerns.

When it comes to finding exercises that burn calories, there are quite a few to consider, but some feels boring over time or are too difficult for people who are not physically fit.

This is another area where rowing comes in. Whether you have your own machine or use one with your gym membership, the rowing motion can help to burn calories effectively.

The great thing about rowing exercises is the versatility that they offer. You can easily include these exercises as part of either an HIIT or LISS workout plan, or simply use it on its own. With a daily rowing session, many people start to notice a reduction in weight within the first five to six sessions.

With this said, the duration it takes you may not be the same, as it differs from one person to the next. Practicing proper form during the aerobic exercise can help to enhance the efficacy of these workouts. In turn, you may find that you lose weight faster, as the exercise helps to bring down your total body fat percentage.

Low Impact Workout

There is a large number of individuals who struggle with joint pain and other health problems that restricts their ability to move freely.

This can also make it harder to participate in an exercise that targets multiple muscle groups. Classic strength training options may put too much strain on your muscles and joints, for example.

With rowing, however, you do not have to worry about causing problems for your joints. This is because even though rowing is a high intensity workout, it has a low impact score.

A low impact exercise means it will have a minimal effect on elements like your knees and other joints. Even though there are repetitive movements, the gliding motion during these exercises eases pressure on these joints.

Can You Build Muscle With A Rowing Workout?

A large part of a rowing machine in your home gym is to provide you with weight loss and help you burn serious calories.

This is why people often wonder if they are able to use a rower when they want to build muscle. As we have mentioned previously, a rower does offer a total body workout. This means your indoor rowing machine can help to target a diverse range of muscles in your body, apart from just improving your cardiovascular system. This is especially the case with a proper rowing technique during your rowing workouts.

We take a closer look at what muscles rowing exercises works in this section. We will also consider how long you should row in order to achieve the desired results.

Muscles Worked

When you use an indoor rower, it is important to understand that the exercise you perform will have an impact on the muscles affected in the process.

Some exercises target more muscle tissue than others. With a balanced program, however, you can work on muscle groups in both the lower and upper body.

This can help to provide you with a more comprehensive workout.

If you maintain proper form and follow the regular rowing machine exercises, then you can expect it to effectively work on the following muscles:

  • In your legs, the exercises will improve lean mass and growth in your quads, as well as the glutes.
  • These exercises helps to work on your core muscles, which allows you to develop your abs.
  • They also work great on the triceps, biceps, and deltoids that form part of your arms.

It is true that these machines will work more on your legs than on your upper body. Fortunately, you can easily overcome the risk of creating an imbalance by creating a great workout plan.

If you have enough workout space, consider adding some extra strengthening exercises to your routine that primarily focuses on the upper body muscles.

A more intense row stroke can also add more resistance to the cable that you pull with your arms, which could improve the effect that the exercise has on your upper body.

How Long Should You Row For Muscle Building?

Timing is important when it comes to exercise, but you do need to consider a few things.

If you are only getting started with a fitness routine, then do not push yourself too much at first. Start out slow and be considerate of health problems that you have.

Those with heart health issues or blood pressure problems should also start out slow. Putting added stress on these systems in your body could lead to adverse effects.

It is a good idea to start by aiming for a 20 minute session. Continue doing these exercises every day until this point, then increase to half an hour.

Your ultimate goal is to last for a full 45 minutes. If you are trying to build muscles, make sure you eat a few more calories in the form of healthy foods to build protein and lean mass. When you reach this goal, you may also notice it helps to improve posture and reduce stress.


Rowing machines are not only great for your leg muscles, but also works your upper body too. You can use rowing machines to improve your cardiovascular endurance and work on many major muscle groups.

It is a good cardio workouts and even though intense, rowing has a low impact on the body. These benefits of rowing makes it an excellent addition to your daily exercise routine.


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Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost

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